[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
The CenterStage Theatre company may technically be a community theater group, but if you didn’t know that and you were part of the audience when they presented Terrance McNalley and David Yazbek’s The Full Monty, you would think you were attending a performance by one of the best professional companies in the city.
Not only did John Leffert work his usual magic in staging this show, but he took on the responsibility of one of the leads – Dave Bukatinsky – and he did a wonderful job, as did every member of the cast.
The underlying story is heartrending. When the steel mill closed down, the men who worked in the plant lost their jobs, and without the mill, other employment opportunities dried up. Pittsburgh seemed to be a dying town. While the men searched for work day after day, their wives became their families’ primary breadwinners. As the months grind on, the men are ground down.
There is, however, another side to The Full Monty. Six of these down-and-out men, after seeing their wives’ reactions to a striptease performance decide that, if the Chippendale can do it, so can they.
Their struggle to create a credible performance and regain their self-respect by taking it all off is as hilarious as it is poignant.
Pete Lay and Margot Woolridge struck the right balance as Jerry and Pam Lukowski, a divorced couple battling over their son, both trying to do what is best for him.
Rita Hight delivered a high energy performance as Jeanette Burmeister, the feisty, profane, seen-it-all pianist and producer for the six.
Frank Goodloe as Noah “Horse” T. Sommins was phenomenal. With incredible ease, he made the transition from the older man with some movement issues to accomplished dancer and the anchor of the group.
And with The Full Monty, each and every one of the six male leads must be credited for the sheer guts of doing this show, including the full monty.
My only regret is that we now have to wait until July 12 for the next show. I can hardly wait, because it is Jonathan Larsen’s RENT.